Portsmouth Clay ends Peebles season –
By Mark Carpenter –
For the second season in a row Coach Doug McFarland and his Peebles Lady Indians softball squad made their way to the Division IV district semi-final game. And for the second year in a row, their season ended there in disappointment. In 2017, it was a district final loss to Fairfield that sent he Lady Indians home and on Saturday, May 19 on the softball field at the University of Rio Grande, the Lady Indians suffered the same fate, this time at the hands of the Portsmouth Clay Lady Panthers.
One bad inning was the downfall on Saturday for the Lady Indians as Clay broke open a tie game with a six-run bottom of the third, taking advantage of some Peebles miscues, and never looking back on their way to winning the district championship by a final score of 9-2.
“There’s no room for errors at this level and we definitely had too many today,” said Coach McFarland after the game. “One inning just killed us. We gave up two runs early and came back from that, but a couple of bad decisions in that bottom of the third really put us behind the eight-ball. After that, our kids seemed to unravel a little bit but I thought we battled all the way. Clay is good team with a lot of kids back from last year and I’m hoping we will see them in the same spot next year.”
It was a tough day all around for the Lady Indians. Pitcher Madison Pierce was just a little off her game against a powerful Clay lineup that banged out 10 hits in the win. Pierce uncharacteristically walked five batters and allowed eight earned runs, but still turned in a memorable junior year in the Peebles uniform.
The Lady Panthers wasted no time in taking the lead in the district title contest, getting to Pierce for two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Lead off hitter Ryanna Bobst walked and was sacrificed to second, then came in to score on a base hit by third baseman Shae Vassar, who later came home on a Peebles error to make it 2-0.
Pierce worked around two errors in the bottom of the second, wiggling out of trouble by inducing Vassar to hit into an inning-ending fielder’s choice, bring the Lady Indians to bat in the top of the third, where they plated two runs to tie the score. With one out, Hailey Moore doubled to the fence in left, followed by a two-base hit by Pierce that drove home Moore. Kylie Sims smacked a 1-1 pitch right back up the box for a base hit that sent Pierce scampering home with the tying run.
Unfortunately for the Lady Indians that tie didn’t last very long, not even a half-inning. In their half of the third, the Lady Panthers exploded for six huge runs, the go-ahead run scoring on a Peebles error and the flood gates opened, with a Bobst single scoring two more and with the bases loaded a two-bagger by Vassar cleared them all to give Clay a commanding 8-2 lead.
Julia Swain pitched the first three frames for the Lady Panthers and was relieved in the top of the fourth by Hannah Oliver, who proceeded to throw four innings of shutout softball. The Lady Indians threatened in the top half of the sixth, getting another base hit from Sims and a single to center by Josie Myers, but they were both left stranded when Kyndell Lloyd went down swinging for the final out.
Clay added a little icing to the cake in the bottom of the sixth when with one out, first baseman Jensen Warnock took Pierce’s first offering deep over the left field fence to make it 9-2. Peebles got another two-base hit by Moore with two out in the top of the seventh, but a sharp line drive off the bat of Pierce was snagged by Clay third baseman Vassar to end the game and end the Lady Indians’ season once again coming up short in the district finals.
In the loss, the Peebles girls rapped out eight hits, two each from Moore and Sims. Pierce went six innings, allowing 10 hits and the eight earned runs, but probably deserved a better fate. Swain got the win for Clay, and was backed up by a big day at the plate from Vassar, who was 2 for 4 and drove home four runs. The Lady Panthers advanced to regional play, where they were scheduled to face Strasburg-Franklin on Wednesday at Pickerington Central High School.
For the Lady Indians, the season ends with a final mark of 16 wins and 6 losses. The Peebles girls won a share of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference small school title and a sectional crown, and will bid farewell to a talented group of seniors in Josie Myers, Matti Nichols, and Hailey Moore.
“Our seniors are just great kids,” said Coach McFarland. “Matti and Josie weren’t even going to play high school softball and I talked them into playing and now I can’t say enough about the effort they gave for four years. Their leadership was outstanding and they were great team players. Getting Hailey last year was a huge pick-up for us. She’s a real nice player, good hitter, did a great job at shortstop, just a class kid. I hate to lose all three of them.”
“We will regroup with some new kids moving up from junior high so we’re looking for a good season next year too.”
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Peebles Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Short 3-0-1-0, Moore 3-1-2-0, Pierce 4-1-1-1, Sims 2-0-2-1, Reed 3-0-0-0, Toller 3-0-0-0, Myers 3-0-1-0, Lloyd 3-0-1-0, Nichols 3-0-0-0, Brown 1-0-0-0, Team 28-2-8-2.
Extra-Base Hits: Moore 2B (2), Pierce 2B, Lloyd 2B
Clay Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Bobst 3-2-1-2, Brown 2-1-0-0, Vassar 4-1-2-4, Warnock 3-1-1-1, Bazler 3-1-2-0, Swain 4-1-2-0, Wells 4-1-2-0, Oliver 3-1-0-0, Munion 2-0-0-0, Collins 1-0-0-0, Team 29-9-10-7.
Extra-Base Hits: Vassar 2B, Warnock HR
Pierce (L) 6 IP, 10 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 5 BB, 3 K
Swain (W) 3 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5K
Oliver 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K